The Fourteen Best Concerts in Denver This Weekend
Xiu Xiu plays Larimer Lounge tonight.
This weekend's best shows include rapper Redman releasing a new album poolside in RiNo, Xiu Xiu bringing its newest noise to Larimer Lounge and "Jessie's Girl" to Fiddler's Green.
There are plenty of other good ones in the next couple days -- the rest of our picks for the weekend are below.
Against Me! The Black Sheep : 7:00 p.m. August 8 It's been over four years since Gainesville, Florida's Against Me! released its highest-charting (number 34 of Billboard 200), Butch Vig-produced White Crosses album -- a furious punk rock offering with mainstream rock & roll underpinnings. Since that time, the band cut ties with its label, Sire Records, and added drumming royalty, Jay Weinberg, son of Max, to its lineup. Weinberg subsequently -- and abruptly -- quit in the midst of recording. Longtime bassist Andrew Seward also stepped down and the band started its own label, Total Treble. Also in that time, singer Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender, after having dealt with gender dysphoria her whole life, and began her transition to living as a female. All things considered, one has to think Laura Grace has had plenty of inspiration to draw from while penning the band's latest effort, Transgender Dysphoria Blues .
Birds of Chicago The Soiled Dove Underground : 8:00 p.m. August 8 Americana is getting crowded with young male-female duos such as Shovels & Rope and the Civil Wars, but there's always room for one more, right? Yes, especially since JT Nero and Allison Russell were already longtime collaborators before they made it official as Birds of Chicago. 2012's eponymous debut (the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign) was hailed as one of the year's best roots debuts by the Chicago Sun-Times and L.A. Times, and exudes the kind of radiant harmonies and easy acoustic familiarity -- spliced with clarinet, accordion and ukulele -- that are difficult to fake.
OK Go Gothic Theatre : 9:00 p.m. August 8 Yes, OK Go is "that treadmill band" -- you know, the video your mom forwarded to you oh-so-many moons ago. But as the band's fan base can attest, OK Go is so much more than that. Over the past fourteen years, the Los Angeles-via-Chicago quartet's music has evolved from slickly produced radio pop (2002's self-titled debut) to grittier, T. Rex- and Pixies-influenced rock (2005's Oh No ). 2010's brilliant Of the Blue Colour of the Sky is even more out there: It could only be described as Prince making a Flaming Lips record -- or maybe the Flaming Lips making a Prince record. These stylistic left turns have been well executed, but, of course, they've also resulted in some puzzled looks from dudes in Delta Omega Nu T-shirts and Reef sandals (i.e., the type of fan who jumped onboard because of said treadmill video).
Pretty Lights Red Rocks Amphitheatre : 7:30 p.m. August 8; 7:30 p.m. August 9 On A Color Map of the Sun , Derek Vincent Smith ventured outside the box for a unique project in which he created his own samples using handpicked instrumentalists. Here the Pretty Lights maestro explores the foundations of jazz, funk and soul, offering his own modern take using time-specific tools of the trade to channel the haunting undertones of yesteryear. "Around the Block" utilizes Talib Kweli's vocals to enhance the album's fundamental rap element, which is also clearly defined on "Let's Get Busy," (later released as "All These Lights," featuring Eligh and The Grouch). "Prophet," with its heavy, synthesized sounds and monster beat, is evidence that Smith is still Pretty Lights at heart, while "Yellow Bird" complements this notion at the other end of the spectrum with its melodic piano chords. Does it work? Well, let's just say that there's a good chance it will influence subsequent production, in the same way that Smith inspired other producers with his past efforts.
Stoney LaRue Grizzly Rose : 8:30 p.m. August 8 Stoney LaRue was born in Taft, Texas, near Corpus Christi, to a family of musicians and spent part of his formative years in Oklahoma, eventually settling in the Stillwater of Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jason Boland. So guess what he does for a living now? If you can get past the silly name, which you should, you'll find that LaRue is one of the strongest young talents in the Red Dirt/Texas Country arena, and such a seasoned road dog that two of his first three records were live sets.
Xiu Xiu Larimer Lounge : 7:00 p.m. August 8 Xiu Xiu got its start in 2002 when Jamie Stewart and his friend and longtime musical collaborator Cory McCulloch started writing songs in a more experimental vein, making extensive use of non-Western percussion and tones. The group's debut album, 2002's Knife Play , anticipated more widespread use of non-western instruments in underground bands by a few years, and it quickly became a classic record and subsequent tour in the band's history. Since then, Xiu Xiu has set a high bar for challenging itself creatively while still having fun with the music and working with a wide array of its peers in the underground musical world and beyond.
Bag Raiders Club Vinyl : August 9 The electro-pop that Bag Raiders produces and mixes is a tropical fusion of house and electro, perfect for days lounging on the beach or humid nights dancing under the stars. Jack Glass and Chris Stracey, the two artists who make up Bag Raiders, hail from Sydney, Australia, and spend their stateside time in Los Angeles, so it's no wonder that their sound evokes a summery warmth and exuberance that's appropriate at any time of year. Theirs is perfect celebration music, and it's muted enough that even avowed haters of dance music will find themselves inadvertently nodding along -- or even shaking a hip -- to the infectious tunes pumping from the speakers. Bag Raiders will headline at Vinyl on Saturday, August 9.
The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo) Bluebird Theater : 9:00 p.m. August 9 On paper, pairing singer-songwriter Aimee Mann with the wacky and sometimes frenetic Ted Leo might seem a little strange. But the harmony of Mann's melodic sensibilities and Leo's edgier indie-rock-centric guitar-isms works quite well, as evidenced on the pair's debut, The Both , released in April on Mann's SuperEgo Records. The bouncy rocker "Milwaukee" tells the story of how the two decided to start their project while looking at a bronze statue of the Fonz on a Milwaukee riverfront before a 2012 show at which Leo was opening for Mann. They spent a good portion of last year collaborating on the righteous eleven-song disc of originals plus one mighty cover of Thin Lizzy's "Honesty Is No Excuse."
KOOL Koncert Fiddler's Green Amphitheater : 5:30 p.m. August 9 Nostalgia tends toward compression, and 25 years out, the '80s have collapsed into a hyper-color white dwarf, a few months across and a million miles deep. In a package-tour market so confused that Tiffany and R.E.M. might reasonably end up on the same bill, then Rick Springfield, Cheap Trick and Loverboy are perfect together. With the politics of loving an Australian soap star vs. a Rockford bar band long forgotten, we're left with a string of bombastic early-'80s choruses that would work equally well on jangly guitars and a Yamaha DX7. Someday, the only thing visible across the '80s event horizon will be Reagan playing Nin-tendo on Rollerblades. For now, "Surrender" and "Jessie's Girl" belong together.
Yes The Paramount Theatre : 8:00 p.m. August 9 Prog-rock kings Yes are known for their intricate and multimovement songs, ethereal lyrics and harmonies, and fantasy-fueled album-cover art (mostly by Roger Dean, who also designed their distinctive logo). Through the '60s and '70s, albums like Fragile , Close to the Edge , and Tales From Topographic Oceans and tracks "Starship Trooper," "I've Seen All Good People," "Roundabout," and "Long Distance Runaround" became classic-rock staples. And after making a surprising comeback in the early '80s with two songs whose videos were constantly in rotation on the then-fledgling MTV ("Owner of a Lonely Heart," "Leave It"), the band found new life. It's continued to make new music and tour with changing (and returning) members on and off ever since. Bassist Chris Squire is the only Yes man present from the beginning and through every lineup, and with the latest incarnation that lands at the Paramount Theatre.
Peter Frampton Hudson Gardens : 6:30 p.m. August 10 Peter Frampton's long, luscious locks may now just be a thing for the history books, but without his '70s sex symbol looks people can finally focus on the fact that he's a highly underrated guitar player.
Janiva Magness Boulder Outlook Hotel : 8:00 p.m. August 10 When you hear Janiva Magness sing, you're hearing a life: a tough one, a lucky one, a damn hard-fought one. The Detroit-born, Southern California-based blueswoman has a near 30-year career in music behind her, and who knows, maybe 30 more years ahead of her. Whatever happens, she's unlikely to make another record like Stronger For It, her 2012 album for the Alligator label. It deserves to be called a career record because it draws on all the hope and strife and power of her voice and her killer instinct for interpretation, whether she's transforming unlikely sources like Buddy Miller, Matthew Sweet or Shelby Lynne, or co-writing with her producer David Darling. The album is filed under blues but it's white hot soul music, born out of a brutally hard year of loss and a will to keep making music that "makes a connection," as she puts it.
Redman EXDO Event Center : August 10 It has been said that the only thing Colorado's near-perfect landscape is missing is an ocean. O.penVAPE's Ink Monstr Poolside Summer Series seeks to remedy that by transforming the Exdo Events Center into a sandy oasis complete with an above-ground pool, an adult-sized Slip 'N Slide and, yes, more than a hundred tons of sand.
"I'm trying to bring the beach to Colorado, basically -- bring it right into the city," says Ink Monstr's Reed Silberman about the six-party series.
This weekend's installment features Redman, who will be celebrating the release of his new album here in Denver. Relax poolside on a deck built just for the occasion, or catch some rays on on the faux beach with hundreds of your closest friends. As in years past, live tattooing, screen-printing, a photo booth, a dunk tank and lawn games will provide additional fun in the sun.
Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott Chautauqua Auditorium : August 10 When Tim O'Brien moved to Boulder from West Virginia in the 1970s, he brought with him a vast knowledge of folk, bluegrass and country music. He soon connected with like-minded lovers of what today would be called "old-timey music" and formed Hot Rize in 1978. The group became one of the most popular and influential acts to bring bluegrass, old country and traditional American and Irish folk back into popular culture. But Hot Rize didn't just play standards exceedingly well; it also wrote and performed new music in an older style with a modern sensibility. Although O'Brien continues to perform with Hot Rize, he's been more productive on his own in the past two decades-plus, playing with the likes of Kathy Mattea and Mark Knopfler. Getting to see the talented multi-instrumentalist and singer at Chautauqua isn't just natural; it'll probably be just about perfect.
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